Around the Watershed: News and Events

HEC-RAS Workshop a Success!

Posted on: August 16th, 2019 by Tim Koch

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram recently hosted a three-day work­shop on how to use HEC-RAS, a pow­er­ful com­puter pro­gram used to model flow in stream chan­nels. HEC-RAS is an acronym for the Hydro­logic Engi­neer­ing Center’s River Analy­sis Sys­tem. First released in 1995, its capa­bil­i­ties have grown sig­nif­i­cantly over time. HEC-RAS is now on its fifth ver­sion. It is often used to delin­eate the extent of the 1% annual chance flood­plain (aka, the 100-year flood­plain) among other reg­u­la­tory, tech­ni­cal, and envi­ron­men­tal uses.

Workshop participants use digital models of the terrain to help model how rivers behave during flood events.

Work­shop par­tic­i­pants use dig­i­tal mod­els of the ter­rain to help model how rivers behave dur­ing flood events.

This 3-day work­shop focused on using HEC-RAS to aid in the assess­ment and design of bridges and cul­verts. Milone and MacB­room, Inc. (MMI) were con­tracted to con­duct the hands-on work­shop to an audi­ence of twenty peo­ple. Par­tic­i­pants included staff and man­agers from County Depart­ments of Pub­lic Works and Town High­way Depart­ments within the West of Hud­son Water Sup­ply water­sheds. Oth­ers in atten­dance included flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion per­son­nel from NYC DEP, Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram staff, DEC hydrol­o­gists, and folks from Riverkeeper.

HEC-RAS requires site-specific input data to accu­rately model flows and floods. Thus, the work­shop had a field com­po­nent where peo­ple were taught where to place stream cross sec­tions in rela­tion to the bridge, how to con­duct peb­ble counts to deter­mine size dis­tri­b­u­tion of sed­i­ment par­ti­cles on the stream bed, and how to mea­sure spe­cific com­po­nents of bridges and cul­verts required to build a HEC-RAS model. Only local data were used, and the work­shop cen­tered around mod­el­ing exist­ing con­di­tions and pro­posed alter­na­tives for an under-sized bridge in the Ashokan Reser­voir watershed.

Workshop participants investigate the Fox Hollow Road bridge over the Esopus Creek. Measurements taken on site were used to model different bridge replacement scenarios in order to increase community resilience during floods.

Work­shop par­tic­i­pants inves­ti­gate the Fox Hol­low Road bridge over the Eso­pus Creek. Mea­sure­ments taken on site were used to model dif­fer­ent bridge replace­ment sce­nar­ios in order to increase com­mu­nity resilience dur­ing floods.

It is impor­tant that bridges and cul­verts are sized prop­erly to pass flows that the struc­ture is likely to see over the course of its life. Under­sized bridges and cul­verts not only worsen flood­ing, but also frag­ment aquatic ecosys­tems and can cre­ate insta­bil­ity in the stream chan­nel that can prop­a­gate sig­nif­i­cant dis­tances upstream and down­stream from the struc­ture and lead to other damage.

This work­shop was aimed at empow­er­ing local engi­neers and high­way depart­ment staff to make informed deci­sions when man­ag­ing road-stream cross­ings (i.e., bridges and cul­verts.) Prop­erly sized cross­ings help to increase com­mu­nity resilience to cli­mate change, improve aquatic habi­tat, and help to main­tain water qual­ity in the Eso­pus Creek and its tributaries.

September is Ashokan Watershed Month — Register for Events Now

Posted on: August 12th, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) has declared that Sep­tem­ber 2019 is Ashokan Water­shed Month! Help us cel­e­brate the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics that make the Ashokan water­shed so spe­cial for those who live and visit here.

Dur­ing Sep­tem­ber, AWSMP and its water­shed part­ners are offer­ing a series of events that are edu­ca­tional and fun for the entire fam­ily. Take a self-guided “Ashokan Water­shed Adven­ture” to impor­tant stream sites from the top to bot­tom of the water­shed and win a patch and other prizes. For artsy types, attend a plein air paint­ing work­shop and learn about the stream fea­tures that you’ll be paint­ing. If you want to get out­side, take a guided pad­dle at Ken­neth Wil­son Camp­ground, explore the Eso­pus Creek on a Rail Explor­ers rail car, or learn about fly fish­ing and the Eso­pus Creek fish­ery. There will also be a series of talks and inter­preted walks on the top­ics of Ashokan Reser­voir oper­a­tions, water­shed wet­lands, and pale­o­cli­mate. We’ll wrap up the month with a vol­un­teer ripar­ian plant­ing project near one of our stream restora­tion projects fol­lowed by a clos­ing party and social hour.

Most of these events are free and fam­ily friendly, but reg­is­tra­tion may be required. To learn more about spe­cific events and to reg­is­ter visit We look for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing Ashokan Water­shed Month with you!

Canoe-Kayak by Aaron Bennett

Cel­e­brate by par­tic­i­pat­ing in one of many events includ­ing a stream paddle.

Stream Snorkeling Returns!

Posted on: July 31st, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

Snorkel in the Eso­pus Creek and dis­cover the under­wa­ter world of streams! Chil­dren at least 9 years old or enter­ing 4th grade and adult fam­ily mem­bers can attend a one-hour snor­kel­ing ses­sion in July, or a full day snor­kel­ing and stream study event in August. The July dates are Fri­day, July 12, 19, and 26 — reg­is­ter for one hour from 9:30–10:30 or 10:45–11:45. Attend a full-day of stream activ­i­ties from 9:30–4:00 on Fri­day, August 16.

All snor­kel­ing pro­grams are held at the Emer­son Resort & Spa, 5340 NY-28, Mt Trem­per, NY. All pro­grams are free for Ashokan Reser­voir water­shed res­i­dents (towns of Shan­daken, Olive, Wood­stock, and Hur­ley) and Emer­son Resort guests!

To reg­is­ter for a snor­kel­ing ses­sion in July, call the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram office at (845) 688‑3047 and ask for Linda. Reg­is­ter online for the all-day snor­kel­ing and stream stud­ies event on August 16 at: or call the stream pro­gram office.

Please remem­ber to bring a change of clothes, a swim suit, a towel and old sneak­ers or water shoes (no open-toed shoes) that can get wet. You should also bring sun screen and bug repel­lant if needed. Other wise, every­thing else will be provided.

The event is offered by Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County work­ing with the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram. See an infor­ma­tional video on the snor­kel­ing pro­gram at:

Stream Snorkeling in the Esopus Creek

Reg­is­ter now for stream snorkeling!

AWSMP at Ulster County Fair August 1st

Posted on: July 30th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
AWSMP Stream Educator Tim Koch (gray shirt) uses the stream table to educate Ulster County Fair attendees on the topic of stream dynamics.

AWSMP Stream Edu­ca­tor Tim Koch (gray shirt) uses the stream table to edu­cate Ulster County Fair atten­dees on the topic of stream dynamics.


AWSMP will be at the Ulster County Fair on Thurs­day, August 1 from 10:00am to 3:00pm. We will be located in the Jane W. Bar­ley Memo­r­ial Youth Build­ing. Come visit us and see the stream table in action and learn how water sculpts the land­scape around it. Also see how human inter­ven­tion, par­tic­u­larly how improp­erly designed stream cross­ings and dredg­ing, can have a neg­a­tive impact upon not just the stream but the sur­round­ing land­scape. Be sure to pick up some pro­gram lit­er­a­ture, chat with our edu­ca­tors, and get a deli­cious 4-H milkshake!

Views from the Watershed Bus Tour

Posted on: July 19th, 2019 by Tim Koch

On Sat­ur­day, July 13th, AWSMP par­tic­i­pated in the Views From the Water­shed Bus TourPar­tic­i­pants from New York City and water­shed towns stopped at dif­fer­ent loca­tions in the Ashokan and Pepacton water­sheds dur­ing the day long excur­sion. Guest speak­ers dis­cussed the social his­tory of the water­shed, recre­ational oppor­tu­ni­ties, and other aspects of the West of Hud­son water sup­ply system.

At the Main Street bridge in Phoeni­cia, AWSMP Stream Edu­ca­tor Tim Koch talked about sed­i­ment and tur­bid­ity projects that have been com­pleted in the Stony Clove Creek water­shed. There was also dis­cus­sion about the flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion project com­pleted at the bridge fol­low­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene in 2011.

The group gath­ered under the shade of a tree to escape the sun. Despite the heat, every­one had a great time and even man­aged to sneak in a prac­ti­cal joke. Tour orga­nizer, Lize Mogel, instructed par­tic­i­pants to boo and hiss when Tim said the word “tur­bid­ity” to empha­size the detri­men­tal impact that tur­bid­ity and sus­pended sed­i­ment can have on the water supply.

A sec­ond bus tour is sched­uled for August 3rd, 2019. AWSMP’s Aaron Ben­nett will dis­cuss flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion. For more infor­ma­tion and to pur­chase tick­ets for the August Views From the Water­shed Bus Tour, click here. The bus tours are funded by a Water­shed Edu­ca­tion Grant from the Catskill Water­shed Corporation.


New Event Series — Science in the Catskills

Posted on: July 16th, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

The Catskill Sci­ence Col­lab­o­ra­tive is spon­sor­ing three pub­lic events this sum­mer and fall for learn­ing more about the sci­ence of the Catskills. The events are: Fish Sci­ence at the Roscoe Beer Com­pany, Rock Sci­ence at Sloan Gorge Pre­serve, and Alien Invaders Strike the Catskills! Sound like fun! Reg­is­tra­tion is required. The AWSMP par­tic­i­pates in the Catskill Sci­ence Col­lab­o­ra­tive, which is a pro­gram of the Cary Insti­tute. For more infor­ma­tion and to reg­is­ter visit

See the event brochure: Catskill Sci­ence Col­lab­o­ra­tive Events

Listen to Outdoor Guides of the Catskills

Posted on: July 8th, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

Lis­ten to an audio record­ing of the Phoeni­cia Library Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection’s lat­est pro­gram on out­door guides of the Catskills called the “Adven­ture Experts.” The pro­gram fea­tures a pan­elist of local guides and an intro­duc­tion by AWSMP Stake­holder Coun­cil mem­ber Mark Loete. The pro­gram was devel­oped by Beth Water­man for the Phoeni­cia Library and recorded by Sil­ver Hol­low Audio.

Hear about the impor­tance of pro­tected nat­ural resources to the guid­ing indus­try, the his­tory of guid­ing, and what to look for in a guide for out­door adven­ture in the Ashokan water­shed and Catskills. Pan­elists include:

Will Soter, the co-founder of Upstate Adven­ture Guides
Hank Rope, owner of Big Indian Guide Ser­vice
Cliff Schwark, founder of the Catskill Mt. Chap­ter of Trout Unlim­ited
Patti Rudge, first woman to serve as full time NYS For­est Ranger

This event on May 11, 2019 was spon­sored by the Jerry Bartlett Angling Col­lec­tion and made pos­si­ble with funds from the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Program.

Esopus Creek News Summer Edition

Posted on: July 3rd, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

The sum­mer 2019 edi­tion of AWSMP’s newslet­ter, the Eso­pus Creek News is now avail­able. This edi­tion fea­tures arti­cles on the impor­tance of native plants along streams and NYC’s drink­ing water test­ing pro­gram. The black bear is pro­filed in our stream cor­ri­dor wildlife seg­ment. A Field Notes sec­tion updates on stream projects and other stream news from around the watershed.

Are you a res­i­dent or fre­quent vis­i­tor of the Ashokan Reser­voir water­shed? Have a print ver­sion of the Eso­pus Creeks News mailed to you, just send your name and address to

Red Bedrock Upper Esopus Creek

What makes Catskills bedrock red? Read the Eso­pus Creek News to find out.

Flooding Happens: Understanding How Floods Happen and How to Be More Flood Resilient

Posted on: June 13th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
Flooded Field Crops in Schoharie County, NY. Photo by FEMA.

Flooded Field Crops in Schoharie County, NY. Photo by FEMA.


Flood­ing hap­pens. In recent years, more fre­quent and more intense pre­cip­i­ta­tion events have been observed. This is espe­cially true in the NYC Water­shed area of Ulster County, which suf­fered dev­as­tat­ing dam­age dur­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene in 2011. If you own or rent land any­where in the county and are con­cerned about flood­ing, then join Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County (CCEUC) on Wednes­day, July 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ulster County Fair­grounds (249 Lib­er­tyville Road, New Paltz) in the Youth Building.

Visit for reg­is­tra­tion and the most up-to-date infor­ma­tion. The cost is $20 per per­son. Lunch and trans­porta­tion to a farm visit will be provided.

Pre­sen­ters will dis­cuss flood­ing and its impacts on home prop­er­ties as well as agri­cul­tural land. Par­tic­i­pants will learn how to deter­mine if their prop­erty lies in a flood zone, what that means for their land or prop­erty, and pos­si­ble mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies. Ashokan water­shed res­i­dents con­cerned about pro­tect­ing their prop­er­ties from flood­ing will learn from regional experts in the field. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Program’s Cer­ti­fied Flood­plain Man­ager, Brent Gotsch, will start off the pro­gram with an intro­duc­tion to deter­min­ing flood risk on your prop­erty and how to under­stand flood insur­ance rate maps and flood insur­ance studies.

The pro­gram, while applic­a­ble to those with gen­eral con­cerns about flood­ing, will have an agri­cul­tural focus. Many parcels in the Ashokan water­shed have been his­tor­i­cally used for agri­cul­ture and have the poten­tial to be used for agri­cul­ture again if proper plan­ning and land use con­sid­er­a­tions are taken.

For more infor­ma­tion, call Jim O’Connell at 340‑3990 ext. 390, ore­mail

Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County pro­vides equal pro­gram and employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties.  Please con­tact the office at 845–340-3990 if you have any spe­cial needs.

Another Successful Family Fun and Fish Day

Posted on: May 30th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
Reeling in a fish at Family Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Amanda Cabanillas.

Reel­ing in a fish at Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Amanda Cabanillas.


AWSMP held another suc­cess­ful Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day on Sun­day, May 19 at Ken­neth Wil­son Camp­ground. AWSMP col­lab­o­rates each year with the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (NYSDEC) to allow par­tic­i­pants to fish with­out a fish­ing license. NYSDEC also pro­vides fish­ing poles, tackle, and bait to par­tic­i­pants. Vol­un­teers from the Catskill Moun­tain Chap­ter and Ashokan-Pepacton Chap­ter of Trout Unlim­ited attended and helped assist novice anglers with learn­ing how to prop­erly bait hooks, cast lines, and prop­erly release fish back into water. AWSMP staff pro­vided logis­ti­cal orga­ni­za­tion for the event and served a bar­be­cue lunch. The entire event was free of charge with the excep­tion of a nom­i­nal park­ing fee for the campground.

The event had 88 peo­ple attend, many of whom had never fished before. The weather held out and the fish were bit­ing with sev­eral peo­ple catch­ing a vari­ety of sun­fish. AWSMP would like to thank the staff of Ken­neth Wil­son Camp­ground as well as our friends from our local Trout Unlim­ited Chap­ters and NYSDEC for help­ing to put on a suc­cess­ful event. We can’t wait for next year!


Catching a sunfish at Family Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk.

Catch­ing a sun­fish at Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk.